5 Things You Didn't Know About Millard Fillmore

On July 10, 1850, Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States, and the last one in that office who was a member of the Whig Party. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about President Millard Fillmore...


Fillmore Never Won a Presidential Election On July 4, 1850, President Zachary Taylor came down with a stomach bug after attending a Fourth of July celebration at the Washington Monument. Within days, Taylor was dead and Vice President Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th president of the United States.  The only other U.S. presidents never elected to the office were John Tyler (1841-1845), Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885) and Gerald Ford (1974-1977).

Fillmore Served As President Without A Vice President Although it may sound unusual, there are many times throughout American history when a sitting president didn't have a vice president. Fillmore was placed in the same position as John Tyler, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A. Arthur by taking over after the sitting president had died in office. This is because before the 25th Amendment was adopted in 1967, there was no provision to fill the office of vice president until the following inauguration of a new president.


Fillmore Personally Fought A Fire While He Was President Fillmore’s father purportedly owned only three books: a Bible, a hymnbook and an almanac. Yet Fillmore became a bibliophile anyway, carrying a dictionary with him at all times in order to improve his vocabulary. As president, he and his wife founded the first permanent White House library. He also reportedly raced to help fight a December 1851 blaze at the Library of Congress and then signed a bill to fund the replacement of all the books that had been destroyed.


He Married His Teacher Millard Fillmore's parents provided him with a basic education before they apprenticed him to a cloth maker at a young age. Through his own determination, he continued to educate himself and eventually enrolled in New Hope Academy at the age of nineteen. While at New Hope Academy, Fillmore found a kindred spirit in Abigail Powers. Even though she was his teacher, she was only two years older than him. They both loved learning. However, they did not get married until three years after Fillmore joined the bar. Fillmore lasted one term as president. At his successor’s inauguration, held outdoors in the freezing cold, Abigail became ill with pneumonia and died a short time later.

He Later Ran For President Under The Know-Nothing Party The Know-Nothings were anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, and it was this party that nominated Filmore as their candidate in the 1856 election against Democrat James Buchanan and Republican John C. Fremont. In the election, Fillmore only won the electoral votes from the state of Maryland. He garnered 22 percent of the popular vote and was defeated by James Buchanan.